Rare Jobs documentary highlights early days of NeXT

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A documentary from the 1980s focusing on the early days of NeXT shows late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs at work behind the scenes at his second computer startup, offering a rare glimpse at how the tech guru handled his charges and what he thought of the future of personal computing.

Jobs Documentary


Attesting to the film's rarity, the well-informed Jim Darlymple said, "I've never seen this video," when he posted the documentary to his website The Loop.

It appears that the 20-minute documentary was made during the building of NeXT, Jobs' first project after being was ousted from Apple in 1985.

The video shows the first steps Jobs took when building NeXT, which he saw as being a producer of high-end college and enterprise workstations. From the company's logo, which was created by legendary designer Paul Rand, to the firm's mission statement, the film documents the earliest days at NeXT.

Perhaps most interesting are the numerous speeches and "brainstorming sessions" Jobs participated in, which illustrated his unique insight into the world of personal computing and how his new company fit in to that industry. One of the most notable ideas is Jobs' emphasis on bringing expensive high technology, usually reserved for big business, down to a level accessible by consumers.





Chronicling a time period up until the first units and software began to ship, the documentary describes the multiple challenges Jobs faced in building NeXT, motivating his employees and creating a polished product.

Jobs thought of himself as the keeper of the vision, a leader who kept the company on track and reminded his colleagues of what was important and what was not. Many believe it was this idea, combined with Jobs' forward-looking vision, that made Apple such a success when he returned to the company in 1997.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    Wonderful piece.
  • Reply 2 of 31
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,686member
    According to the bio, NeXT was a disaster and burned through cash like one wouldn't believe. Jobs really did learn a lot while he was away from Apple, but he almost didn't get that far.

    Read a book!
  • Reply 3 of 31
    ivladivlad Posts: 742member
    Pretty amazing to see Steve talking about his philosophy and what NeXT should have been.
  • Reply 4 of 31
    ivladivlad Posts: 742member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post



    According to the bio, NeXT was a disaster and burned through cash like one wouldn't believe. Jobs really did learn a lot while he was away from Apple, but he almost didn't get that far.

    Read a book!


    That far? NeXT technology and interface was the foundation of OS 9.

  • Reply 5 of 31
    rot'napplerot'napple Posts: 1,839member
    You can almost see the "wheels" spinning in Steve's head... I miss his pride he showed in his keynotes of what he and his team come up with.
  • Reply 6 of 31
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Here is a video of the US run automated facility for building NeXT machines...

    [VIDEO]

    eriamjh wrote: »
    According to the bio, NeXT was a disaster and burned through cash like one wouldn't believe. Jobs really did learn a lot while he was away from Apple, but he almost didn't get that far.
    Read a book!

    He almost didn't get that far? Even if Apple was the last thing he ever did he got farther than most in this world. But let's say that NeXT wasn't bought by Apple. Let's say that Jobs never returned to Apple. First of all, Apple would likely be dead and we'd be using some very shitty smartphones today (although most of use might still be on dumb phones). There certainly wouldn't be a Mac OS X or iOS. And where would Jobs be? He would have been very successful with Pixar which he bought from George Lucas for about $50 million and sold to Disney 20 years later for $7.4 billion. The number of people who have had so many varying successes from so many different endeavors are very few and far between.
  • Reply 7 of 31
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,110member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post



    According to the bio, NeXT was a disaster and burned through cash like one wouldn't believe. Jobs really did learn a lot while he was away from Apple, but he almost didn't get that far.

    Read a book!


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by iVlad View Post



    Pretty amazing to see Steve talking about his philosophy and what NeXT should have been.


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by iVlad View Post


    That far? NeXT technology and interface was the foundation of OS 9.





    I worked on NeXT workstations back in the early 90's.  I remembered being completely blown-away at the quality of the OS and the software being used.  The hardware was top-notch and recall how meticulous the inside of the machines were back then.  I think we were using Adobe Illustrator (or an equivalent back then).  They were truly light-years ahead of the competition.  I do vaguely remember my boss getting chewed-out a little bit by upper-management due to the price of the systems.  Our designers that used them were in love with them.  Sadly, when a complete overhaul of the organization happened and the resulting budget-slashing, those workstations didn't last long.



    They were beautiful machines back then.  IBM/Microsoft didn't even come close to matching what Steve Jobs had.  However, like everything else... cheap rules all.

  • Reply 8 of 31
    Amazing piece indeed!

    He always said we.

    I love him for that.

    The subject of human creativity is not an [self]-centric, but a composite subject. - Anthony Braxton
  • Reply 9 of 31
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,757member


    Anyone have any info on the source of that video? Something about it seems like a vanity piece that was commissioned by Jobs. Can't quite put my finger on it, but that's the feeling I got.

  • Reply 10 of 31

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tulkas View Post


    Anyone have any info on the source of that video? Something about it seems like a vanity piece that was commissioned by Jobs. Can't quite put my finger on it, but that's the feeling I got.



     


     


    Really?!


    OH, humanity!

  • Reply 11 of 31
    I recall a documentary based on the Tom Peters book, 'In Search of Excellence', and there was a segment on Apple just after the Macintosh was introduced. It's probably on YouTube. Worth seeing. Same narrator as this one.
  • Reply 12 of 31
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,757member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ochyming View Post


     


     


    Really?!


    OH, humanity!



    I take it you think that is a cynical view? Wasn't intended to be. Just can't imagine a situation where Jobs would allow a director to film him strolling through a meadow or picking weeds unless he was involved in the process. At the same time, I find it hard to believe that he would commission a video of himself, so I am unsure.

  • Reply 13 of 31
    I kept waiting for the BEEP to advance the film strip...

    Very interesting video. I would like to know where all those people are today.

    What is amazing is how much of the work they started at NeXT lives on in OSX and iOS.

  • Reply 14 of 31
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member


    Good stuff. I wonder who has been sitting on that video all this time. The quality of the audio and video is excellent. Great piece. I can't help but notice how the black turtle neck was there somewhat under cover but he definitely adopted that early on as a style.


     


    I was particularly interested in the educational focus of his plan

  • Reply 15 of 31
    Concerning this documentary, it was originally one segment of many on a PBS series called Growing A Business. I've still got a VHS of this program as it followed several startups, showing the problems they faced on a very detailed level. Even at that time I wished they would have devoted a full show about Next.
  • Reply 16 of 31
    NeXT was the foundation for Mac OS 10. The vision about bringing low cost super computers came true with the PPC G5 cluster at Virginia Tech. The NeXT hardware - well, if you look a the Cube and the later Mac Mini, not much difference there !
  • Reply 17 of 31


    Originally Posted by Peter Windle View Post

    …well, if you look a the Cube and the later Mac Mini, not much difference there !


     


    Except all the hardware. And the architecture. And the ports. 

  • Reply 18 of 31
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Peter Windle View Post



    NeXT was the foundation for Mac OS 10. The vision about bringing low cost super computers came true with the PPC G5 cluster at Virginia Tech. The NeXT hardware - well, if you look a the Cube and the later Mac Mini, not much difference there !


    Same father, what would you expect?

  • Reply 19 of 31
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,825member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by G-ray View Post



    Concerning this documentary, it was originally one segment of many on a PBS series called Growing A Business. I've still got a VHS of this program as it followed several startups, showing the problems they faced on a very detailed level. Even at that time I wished they would have devoted a full show about Next.


     


    Welcome to AI.  Wondering which other startups were featured in the program - any that we'd know today?


     


    All the best.

  • Reply 20 of 31
    sflocal wrote: »



    I worked on NeXT workstations back in the early 90's.  I remembered being completely blown-away at the quality of the OS and the software being used.  The hardware was top-notch and recall how meticulous the inside of the machines were back then.  I think we were using Adobe Illustrator (or an equivalent back then).  They were truly light-years ahead of the competition.  I do vaguely remember my boss getting chewed-out a little bit by upper-management due to the price of the systems.  Our designers that used them were in love with them.  Sadly, when a complete overhaul of the organization happened and the resulting budget-slashing, those workstations didn't last long.


    They were beautiful machines back then.  IBM/Microsoft didn't even come close to matching what Steve Jobs had.  However, like everything else... cheap rules all.

    They had a Next Cube at the Olympics. Something about a web of graphical pages. At the time nothing else was CAPABLE of that.
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